The Bean and I are in the middle of our intricate just-got-home-hi-honey-hug-kiss-cook-dinner-put-kids-to-bed dance.
It’s a noisy, complex dance with nightly showings.
The DragonMonkey runs laps in our house, chasing the dog and squealing with excitement.
Bad Max skitters around the corners, claws tick-ticking on the wood, tongue flapping out the corner of his mouth as he narrowly evades being tackled by a two year old.
Fun! Family! Run! Fun! Run! Run! With a dog as simple as Max, it’s not hard to read his thoughts.
“Hahahahahaha! Run! Run! Doggie! More run!” DragonMonkey screams with laughter at the top of his voice.
There’s a reason he and Max are best friends.
The Squidgelet whines softly from his swing, fighting sleep.
I push past the Bean through the narrow doorway into the kitchen, both of us having to flatten ourselves against the walls for there to be enough room.
“No running, Max. DragonMonkey, leave the dog alone. Sweetie, can you pull out some chicken out of the freezer? Max, no running. DragonMonkey, STOP. Hi, Babe, how was your day?”
“Busy,” mumbles the Bean, reaching arm-deep in the freezer, fumbling around for a bag of chicken.
“Hey, I was hoping to go to the gym tomorrow before — DragonMonkey, please get down – before work. You don’t have to — MAMA SAID GET DOWN. ONE… TWO… Thank you. — You don’t have to leave early tomorrow, do you?”
“No, we should be— DRAGONMONKEY, BE NICE TO THE CAT — We should be good. Here’s the chicken.”
Squidgelet’s whines increased in volume.
I toss the still-frozen chicken into some warm water to defrost (oh no! bacteria! Toxic mold! Death! Whatever.) and push past the Bean again as I go to get the Squidgelet.
“Shhh. Shhhh.” I try to avoid nursing him to sleep as it’s a bad habit to fall into, but some nights you just do what you can to survive.
“Hahahahahah! MORE RUN! MORE RUN!” Max and DragonMonkey barrel past me in another noisy loop in the house.
“NO RUNNING!” I bellow, jolting Squidgelet awake. The corner of his lips twist down as if pulled by strings. “Shhh, shhhh! It’s okay!” I try to murmur into his ears, but it’s too late – I’ve thoroughly scared him.
I jiggle him in what I hope is a soothing manner, making shushing noises in his ears. “It’s okay, it’s okay. Shhh, shhh…. Mama wasn’t hollering at you.”
Tick, tick, tick, skitter, Tick, tick, Pant, pant, pant. Max careens past me for a third time.
“MORE RUN! MORE RUN! RUN, RUN, RUN, DOGGIE, RUN, RUN! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!” screeches the DragonMonkey.
“NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!” I yell, startling the poor Squidgelet into a fresh burst of crying.
I miss living on the dude ranch.
I miss lazy, quiet evenings with dusty rays of sun dancing through the pines, turning the whole world gold. I miss the sight of horses munching contentedly in the pasture below me, occasionally stomping a fly and snorting out hay dust.
I love my kids, but I miss the sweet scent of horse and alfalfa mixing with the wild fragrance of pine needles. If I were there, I’d be kicking my legs up on the front porch, ankles crossed as I balanced on the railing. The wind would be blowing down off the hill, passing through the trees with creaking moan that never failed to make me shiver, soul contented.
“Uh-oh!” the Dragonmonkey calls out. Cheerfully. “Mama! Mama! Uh-oh!”